The Iroquois and Their Neighbors

Chris Vecsey

Published by: Syracuse University Press

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The Iroquois and Their Neighbors

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The Thomas Indian School and the "Irredeemable" Children of New York

Keith R. Burich

The story of the Thomas Indian School has been overlooked by history and historians even though it predated, lasted longer, and affected a larger number of Indian children than most of the more well-known federal boarding schools. Founded by the Presbyterian missionaries on the Cattaraugus Seneca Reservation in western New York, the Thomas Asylum for Orphan and Destitute Indian Children, as it was formally named, shared many of the characteristics of the government-operated Indian schools. However, its students were driven to its doors not by Indian agents, but by desperation. Forcibly removed from their land, Iroquois families suffered from poverty, disease, and disruptions in their traditional ways of life, leaving behind many abandoned children. The story of the Thomas Indian School is the story of the Iroquois people and the suffering and despair of the children who found themselves trapped in an institution from which there was little chance for escape. Although the school began as a refuge for children, it also served as a mechanism for “civilizing” and converting native children to Christianity. As the school’s population swelled and financial support dried up, the founders were forced to turn the school over to the state of New York. Under the State Board of Charities, children were subjected to prejudice, poor treatment, and long-term institutionalization, resulting in alienation from their families and cultures. In this harrowing yet essential book, Burich offers new and important insights into the role and nature of boarding schools and their destructive effect on generations of indigenous populations.

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To Die Game

The Story of the Lowry Band, Indian Guerillas of Reconstruction

William McKee Evans

The dramatic and exciting story of Indian guerilla warfare against the Confederates during the Civil War. During the Civil War many young Lumbee Indians of North Carolina hid in the swamps to avoid conscription into Confederate labor battalions and carried on a running guerilla war. To Die Game is the story of Henry Berry Lowry, a Lumbee who was arrested for killing a Confederate official. While awaiting trial, he escaped and took to the swamps with a band of supporters. The Lowry band became as notorious as their contemporaries Jesse and Frank James, as they terrorized bush-whacked leaders of possses and military companies. For more than five years, with the support of local Indians and Negroes, they eluded capture. In 1872, Henry disappeared and some of his other followers were eventually hunted down and killed by bounty hunters.

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Who Are These People Anyway?

by Chief Irving Powless, Jr

In the rich tradition of oral storytelling, Chief Irving Powless Jr. of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation reminds us of an ancient treaty. It promises that the Haudenosaunee people and non-Indigenous North Americans will respect each other’s differences even when their cultures and behaviors differ greatly. Powless shares intimate stories of growing up close to the earth, of his work as Wampum Keeper for the Haudenosaunee people, of his heritage as a lacrosse player, and of the treaties his ancestors made with the newcomers. He also pokes fun at the often-peculiar behavior of his non-Onondaga neighbors, asking, “Who are these people anyway?” Sometimes disarmingly gentle, sometimes caustic, these vignettes refreshingly portray mainstream North American culture as seen through Haudenosaunee eyes. Powless illustrates for all of us the importance of respect, peace, and, most importantly, living by the unwritten laws that preserve the natural world for future generations.

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